The Ariaal are northern Kenyan pastoralists. They claim descent from cattle-owning Samburu who captured significant herds of camels and learned how to manage them from their eastern neighbours, the Rendille. This led them to adopt the Rendille culture, language, and other Rendille practices, such as monogamy. Before Kenya independence, the separation between the cattle and camel economies was vividly reflected in the division between an Ariaal elder’s senior wife, whose family would be reared as Ariaal, and his junior wives who lived with his cattle as Samburu. In effect, such elders continued to straddle the boundary between monogamous camel-owning Ariaal and polygynous cattle-owning Samburu, speaking both languages and participating in both cultures.
They have been the subject of much study by anthropologists, especially Elliot Fratkin. More recent work has been conducted by Bettina Shell-Duncan, Benjamin Campbell and their respective students.[full citation needed]
An Ariaal person killing a lion is highly respected.
- Spencer, Paul, 1973, Nomads in Alliance: Symbiosis and Growth among the Rendille and Samburu of Kenya, Oxford University Press, London.
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